Collaboration Offers Path to Keeping Low-Income Students and Students of Color in STEM Classes

September 18, 2017

Nationally, only about 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in STEM end up graduating with a STEM degree. Students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and those who are first-generation college students complete degrees at even lower rates, despite their increasing representation in higher education.

To target these challenges, a project at California State University had campuses redesign introductory math and science courses and implement a summer bridge program and a first-year experience, tying all three interventions together to create a seamless experience for students.

Campuses that successfully collaborated and integrated the interventions saw improvements in STEM retention and overall retention, as well as improvements in affective outcomes such as engagement and sense of belonging, according to a new study from USC Rossier...

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September Birthday May Mean Edge in School

By Julie Deardorff, Northwestern University - Rep: September 18, 2017

Children who start school at an older age do better than their younger classmates, an advantage that extends through college, according to a new working paper co-authored by Northwestern University economist David Figlio, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

“Many parents already delay enrolling their children in school, believing they’ll do better if they’re a bit older,” Figlio told NPR reporter John Ydstie. “It’s sort of ‘academic redshirting,’” he said, referring to recruits in college athletics who are held out of games for a year.

Using Florida birth and education data, researchers compared the performance of August- and September-born children in the same families...

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California K-12 Curriculum Becomes More Historically Accurate with Help from UC Davis

By Karen Nikos-Rose, UC Davis - Rep: September 5, 2017

For generations, it was a rite of passage for 9-year-olds from San Diego to Eureka to craft popsicle-stick and sugar-cube models of a specific California mission. But, the fourth-grade “mission project” is disappearing from many classrooms, as the curriculum that students learn moves into a more accurate history reflecting all cultures.

UC Davis and the California History-Social Science Framework

Nancy McTygue, executive director of the California History-Social Science Project, co-chaired the Instructional Quality Commission’s History-Social Science committee with former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig. They were joined by Beth Slutsky and Shennan Hutton, who both serve as CHSSP coordinators, in writing the original framework. They edited drafts from a team of writers across the state, and responded to thousands of individual public comments on the draft. The framework was adopted in 2016...

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Transforming High School Through Self-Directed Learning

By Kerry McDonald, Education Next - Rep: September 5, 2017

Running an innovative, technology-inspired after school program for city kids near Boston wasn’t enough for Alec Resnick. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and entrepreneur knew that to make a sustained impact in the learning lives of young people he needed more connection than a few hours each week. His goal was simple: blur the lines between schooling and learning by putting young people in charge of their education, with facilitators and resources available to guide and assist. In 2016, he and his team won a grant to do just that.

Resnick’s non-profit, sprout & co., in collaboration with the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, won a $10 million cash grant from XQ Super School Project, an organization focused on transforming high school education, whose board of directors is led by Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs. The plan was for Resnick and his team, with encouragement from local mayor, Joseph Curtatone, to create a new public (non-charter) high school in this city just outside of Boston...

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CDE Postpones Release of CAASPP Statewide Test Results

September 5, 2017

The California Department of Education (CDE) abruptly announced on August 25 that the release of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) test results for 2017 – originally scheduled for August 29 – would be postponed, so the CDE could “address a recently identified data issue.”

The problem, according to some news reports, involves special education students whose test scores were identified with a different district than the district in which they had taken the test. The glitch was spotted when the CDE sent the test results to districts (as a “preview period” to prepare for the public release of the test results), and districts started calling the CDE with questions and concerns.

A rescheduled release date – not yet identified, but probably during the first two weeks of September – is expected to be announced soon.

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State PTA Applauds New Guidelines to Improve Services for Students with Dyslexia

September 5, 2017

New guidelines were released by the California Department of Education in late August to assist teachers and parents in identifying students with dyslexia and to plan, provide, evaluate and improve education services. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin and is characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

California State PTA President Dianna MacDonald said, “California State PTA is pleased State Superintendent Torlakson has released groundbreaking guidelines to assist an estimated 20 percent of the general population representing more than 1 million students in California public schools with this challenging learning disability.

“I know firsthand how critically important early detection, planning and improving education services is to our students through California. I am dyslexic. I understand the struggles – but also the successes – that can be realized with strong public-school and family support."...

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Solar Eclipse Provides Excellent Opportunity to for Hands-On Lessons in the Classroom

By Carrie Spector - Rep: August 21, 2017

August 21st marks the first time in nearly a century that a total solar eclipse will span the entire United States.

“For most of us, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Jonathan Osborne, Kamalachari Professor of Science Education at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education (GSE). “For young children, it’s also a great stimulus to their curiosity.”

The event, Osborne said, prompts many kids to question why the universe works the way it does: Are the moon and the sun really the same size? Why isn’t everyone on Earth seeing this at the same time? How can we predict so accurately when it’s going to happen?

“Questions like this drive science,” said Osborne, whose research includes investigating how to help students use evidence to argue scientific concepts...

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CSU to Drop Algebra Requirement for Non-Science, Math Majors in 2018

By Emily DeRuy, San Jose Mercury News - Rep: August 7, 2017

If you’re one of those students who dreads math – especially algebra – you’ll soon get a bit of a break at the California State University system.

For years, intermediate algebra had been a prerequisite for the system’s general math classes, meaning even students who weren’t majoring in math or science related fields had to complete the course before they could complete their math requirement. Beginning in the fall of 2018, students whose majors aren’t math or science heavy will be able to fulfill their math requirements without slogging through intermediate algebra first – part of a larger effort to increase graduation rates.

“What that means for students is they have more choices,” said Christine Mallon, CSU’s associate vice chancellor for academic programs and faculty development...

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SBE Approves “English Learner Roadmap” to Help More than 1.4 Million California Students

July 24, 2017

On July 12, the State Board of Education approved an “English Learner Roadmap” to help California’s more than 1,000 local school districts welcome, understand, and educate the diverse population of students who are learning English.

California has about 1.4 million students – one of every four public school students statewide – classified as English Learners. The Roadmap is the first new language policy adopted in nearly 20 years, removes outdated barriers to bilingual and multilingual instruction, and will help schools meet updated state and federal education laws and requirements.

State Board President Michael W. Kirst said passage of the roadmap marks both an end and a beginning. "With this vote, the state puts regressive policies in our past and embarks on a new, inclusive path toward ensuring California’s promise of college and career readiness for all students is fulfilled."...

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Study: Academic Motivation Suffers When Economic Mobility Seems Out of Reach

By Hilary Hurd Anyaso - Rep: July 24, 2017

New studies from Northwestern University show that high school and college students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds are much less motivated to overcome academic hardships when they have doubts about the likelihood of people from their backgrounds achieving upward mobility.

The new studies extend previous research demonstrating that low-SES students who see education as a viable path to upward mobility are more inclined to succeed in their educational pursuits despite the numerous academic barriers facing students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Prior research has shown that students from low-SES backgrounds are motivated to persist during difficult academic experiences when they feel school can concretely contribute to future socioeconomic success,” said Alexander Browman, lead author of the studies and a recent Ph.D. graduate in psychology from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern...

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